A Crowded Ocean Needs a Coordinated Plan

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Guest Blogger

Recently, we wrote about how Congress’ 2014 budget compromise eliminated grant funding for Regional Ocean Partnerships. Following the release of the president’s budget earlier this week, we thought we’d revisit the issue of ocean-use planning and discuss why Congress should reinstate funding.

Everyone knows the ocean is a big place, but it sure is getting crowded these days. Commercial and recreational fishermen who have lived off the sea for generations are now competing with offshore wind farms that are getting so large they can be seen from space. Whales that have made a comeback from near extinction are once again threatened by increasing deadly interactions with large ships that cross into the whales’ migratory paths. If we aren’t careful, there will be a traffic jam off our coasts and a lot of unnecessary conflict.

Coastal and marine spatial planning, or ”smart ocean planning”, is a tool that brings all of those users together so that everyone can have a say in making smart, ecosystem-based management decisions. Smart ocean planning identifies areas in the ocean most suitable for various types or classes of activities in order to reduce conflicts among uses, reduce environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses and preserve critical ecosystem services.

The beauty of such a process is that an increase in coordinated ocean management decisions between state and local governments and stakeholders also leads to increased ocean health today and for future generations.

In the coming days, we’ll be explaining more of what goes into smart ocean planning and what we’ll need to make it succeed. For now though, watch this short interview with Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, a marine biologist and senior advisor to Ocean Conservancy, for more information on the basics of ocean planning.

If you’re unable to see the video, you can go here to watch it.

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